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Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, are doomed to perpetual insecurity.

The reason is that adherents of both faith sects worship an omnipotent, omniscient divinity that they universally believe created everything in creation and constantly monitors and directly influences each of its creations nanosecond by nanosecond, if not more closely.

Such a purported being and, thus, everything attributed it is must be absolutely above reproach. So, errors identified in the “holy” Bible, say — of which there have been many since fledgling science emerged in the Middle Ages — are unavoidably existential threats to the faith.

If the Bible is wrong, the doctrines of the faith are in question, as is the veracity and authority of the divinity itself, which is assumed by the faithful to be omni-correct in everything and irreproachably infallible.

So, the entire Christian program is at risk if science is able to demonstrate (as it has) that the biblical scenario attending Noah’s Ark is bunk, that it would be impossible for Noah’s family and his passenger creatures to revitalize and repopulate the earth after a world-submerging flood. For instance, it would take endless eons for the floodwaters to recede enough to expose dry land, and further time for land to dry out enough to sustain crops. How could Noah & Co. survive on the boat until the dry time arrived?

Christianity has survived — robustly, for some reason — despite an avalanche of damning scientific knowledge that put the lie to many of its doctrines, such as Jesus Christ’s birth to a virgin mother, for starters.

One survival tactic was to keep moving the canonical goalposts. Jesus’ mother, Mary, was not technically a virgin as scripture describes her but a woman of perfect moral purity and “without original sin,” many Christian sects now claim. Because it’s clear that not even God could “stop” the sun in the sky without catastrophic consequences for earth, as the Bible says, Christians now say either that “God can do anything He wants, even neutralize His own laws of nature, or that the Bible is only “allegorical,” not realistic.

The leaders of the Christian church have long known the dangers of always-encroaching reality to the invisible powers of a supernatural faith, ever since objective scientific analysis of the natural world became evermore capable of understanding the truths inherent in reality — and in factually identifying the utter impossibilities inherent in supernatural concepts.

If a human being in the real world cannot possibly survive for three days (or even an hour) in the digestive tract of a large fish, as Christian scripture reports happened to Jonah, how can we then be certain that a man once resurrected himself after death and then floated upwards into the sky toward heaven? And where, exactly, is heaven supposedly located, if no one who’s purportedly ever been there has reliably reported back?

A unique survival problem for the Catholic Church is that it was born as the literally God-given Church Universal — “Upon this rock, I will build my church,” God (as Jesus) told his apostle Paul — and, it should be stressed, Jesus was a man, not a woman.

So, for all time, Catholicism is saddled with the necessity to not change one iota (a word of Greek, scripture’s original language) because it was founded by God himself with very specific principles that because unalterably divine must remain forever unchanged or be corrupted. And because a man (Jesus) had only male apostles, only men are forever uniquely qualified for formal ecclesiastic service in a necessarily patriarchal church; women need not apply.

This is a conundrum, writes author Gregory S. Paul in the August/September issue of Free Inquiry (available only by subscription), rendering Catholicism a permanent autocracy:

“[The Catholic Church] is a logical system in the sense that if Jesus were a real entity who was and is the one Perfect Lord God and so forth, then there would be no room for democratic action by his mere mortal creations. That the Roman Catholic Church is the only church that can even begin to make such an amazing claim of divine authorship is one reason many Catholics stick by the establishment even while they recoil at its perfidies.”

Certainly, that priests almost endemically sexually abuse youngsters and have for ages, does not lessen the church’s divine bona fides, right?

Be afraid, Paul writes; be very afraid.

“Obviously, this is an ethical disaster waiting to happen. To have a collection of men ruling via alleged divine autocracy that is almost certainly fictional — without any direct democratic contribution from ordinary folks, women included — is an ideal recipe for producing horrid results on a regular basis.”

Paul contends, reasonably, that any substantive change in democratization of the church’s affairs would signal that “it was no longer run on the sole authority of the creator of the planet and the Church. … [it] would be contaminated with strands of defective popular opinion.”

In other words, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord may not be with thee.”

Classic Catholicism might prove more survivable in these chaotic, transformational times if it weren’t so utterly divine.

No wonder Catholic prelates are feeling so apprehensive these days.


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Rick Snedeker

Rick Snedeker is a retired American journalist/editor who now writes in various media and pens nonfiction books. He has received nine past top South Dakota state awards for newspaper column, editorial,...